Question: what's your cadence? By that I mean how fast are you pedaling? Are you in too hard a gear and mashing on the pedals? That means the gear is so hard you can only pedal at a very slow speed - 40 rpm. That will kill your knees and blow up your legs. If this is the case shift to a much easier gear and increase your rpm to 75-90. It will feel very weird at first, like you're not working your legs, but your legs will not get fatigued so quickly.
UrbanK9, I am in Illinois as well(Chicago 'burbs) and compared to other places I have lived, it is flat, but I have found that while riding, it is FAR from flat! I started riding about 3 weeks ago after a 28-ish year break ;) and my legs seem to give out fairly quickly on hills as well.
I don't have problems with leg cramps (oddly enough because if there is a side effect, I generally get it!) and am in agreement with others here about making sure you are hydrated and fueled up before you head out. Its a lot easier to start out fueled then to try and play catch up.
Tracy, Illinois, CST
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Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
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The result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived. ~The Dalai Lama
Besides all the great advice below I would suggest eating a banana or two 1/2 hour before you ride. It will give you energy to go further so your muscles won't fatigue as quick.
My routine is to eat 4oz. granola mix 1.5 hr. before the ride, a cheese-stick 1 hr. before, and a banana or two 1/2 hour before the ride. Also, I drink about 30oz. H2O before ride as well as during. I usually hydrate every 10 minutes during my rides and electrolytes replenish after. I always feel great, no cramping muscles and am able to go the distance.
Hope you can find something that works for you.
current weight: 222.8
Fitness Minutes: (77,967) Posts: 1,667 8/7/13 12:08 P
It sounds like you are doing too much too soon. Gradually work on building up endurance. Once that is built up, you can work on increasing your speed. The rule of thumb is to increase time-in-the-saddle by no more than 10% from week to week. This builds up endurance slowly, but it reduces the likelihood of injuries.
Edited by: 2WHEELER at: 8/7/2013 (12:08)
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current weight: 124.6
Fitness Minutes: (85,209) Posts: 395 8/7/13 11:26 A
It's possible that I'm not lined up correctly over the pedals; I'm not sure if my bike is really the proper size for me. I bought it on Craigslist because I was in a hurry to have something to ride after my bike was stolen. I'm hoping to buy a new one soon.
I live in Illinois so it's mostly flat ground but there are some small inclines on the bike paths and a little bit bigger ones such as on bike paths that have underpasses that go underneath intersections. That was another place I was noticing the fatigue, going up the incline after the underpass where you have to pedal harder. I haven't noticed much soreness or fatigue *after* riding surprisingly. I was expecting to be really sore especially when I went 9 miles the first day after I hadn't ridden in more than a month. But my legs were fine the next day although I was sore in the 'saddle area'.
Look at your line of force to see if your foot, ankle, knee, hip is aligned over the pedal correctly and that your knees are moving perpendicular to the central axis of the bottom bracket,
Vary you pedal speed. Slowest would be about 70 for climbing and maybe 105 max. In time the max can go up. Try to keep it 85 to 90 for most. Don't get bogged down and have too much load with very low rpms. Work on your pedal efficiency.
L-Glutamine is a good supplement to help recover. I've had some surgeries, rehab, and plenty of soreness, this helps you recover. I have mixed it in water for the gym. GNC will have it in many forms.
current weight: 192.0
Fitness Minutes: (53,047) Posts: 937 7/31/13 11:29 A
Unfortunately, it sounds like you need to build up your leg muscles - get them use to spinning the peddles quickly. If you can find a flat stretch of road - peddle at your usual cadence - then for 10 seconds spin as fast as you can - then recover by riding at your usual cadence. I would do this a few times a week. You can also find a small hill that does not cause you as much trouble and ride up that hill a few times a week.
Also increased water and bananas (potassium) can also minimize muscle cramping.
I've recently started to bike again, and I've noticed that whenever I try to bike fast, or increase speed to get up a hill, my upper leg muscles can't handle it and they start to fatigue, lose strength or give out very quickly... I was wondering if anyone has any tips to prevent this-- besides just building up my muscle strength/endurance?
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